Get Ready for the Prizmah Conference

“A dream can be a dream come true, with just one spark, from me and you.”

Figment from Journey Into Imagination at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT

 

Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to work at Disney World. I was enamored by the Disney magic, and I wanted to learn how to create that magic for others (and, you know, I wanted to be able to get into the Magic Kingdom for free whenever I wanted). During my junior year of college, my dream came true when I was hired to be a Safari Guide at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for a semester. Disney bills itself as “the place where dreams come true.” That motto was printed on the nametag I had waited 20 years to wear, and that responsibility was drilled into our heads as cast members.

Our theme for the 2019 Prizmah Conference is Dare to Dream. Throughout the conference experience, we want you to be inspired by your dreams. As educators and day school leaders, we often live our lives intensely focused on the day-to-day operational and curricular needs of our schools; we don’t always remember the dreams that inspired us to pursue this career in the first place. By identifying and drawing inspiration from your dreams, we hope that your passion and vision will be replenished and strengthened.

However, we also want to give you the tools and the space to figure out how to make your dreams a reality. Reflecting on my Disney experience 10 years later, I am reminded that at Disney, dreams come true through relationships. As a cast member, I was taught to empathize with my guests and to serve each person by connecting with them as an individual. By building these connections and encouraging guests to play in the story we were telling, we created an imaginary world together. As we’ve designed the Prizmah Conference over the last year, our team has continually come back to this idea that if we’re going to make our dreams come true, we need to do it in relationship with each other. And so we’ve baked the idea of building connections into the core of the conference structure.

One of the key questions we’ve asked throughout the design process is how can participants learn with each other instead of being learned at by a presenter. This motivation has influenced the shared experiences (notice they’re not called keynotes or plenaries) we’ll participate in. Opening the conference is George Couros, who will help us to tap into the strengths of our learning community through participatory exercises and hands-on activities designed to get us into the innovator’s mindset. We’ll also learn about the dreams of storytellers, tradition makers and paradigm shifters during our ELI Talks StorySlam. We’re especially thrilled to partner with the master design-thinking facilitators from The Teachers Guild, an initiative of IDEO and the Riverdale Country School, to engage with the questions that matter most to you and your schools.

Creating opportunities to learn together has also shaped the 175 sessions you can choose from. Presenters are encouraged to use participatory learning modalities that allow you to connect not only with the content they’re sharing but also with others in the session. And there will be abundant informal opportunities for learning and connection—whether in the Prizmah DreamLab (our participant playground and collaboration hub), over extended mealtimes or during a quick coffee break between sessions.

As we look toward the future of Jewish day schools, it’s clear to me that each of our dreams will be amplified and strengthened by our empathic and trusting relationships. I hope that you will take advantage of our time together in March to rekindle an old connection, deepen a close relationship or reach out to someone you’ve never met before, because, as Figment reminds us, it just takes one little spark from me to you to make our dreams come true.

The 2019 Prizmah Conference is March 10-12 in Atlanta. Find out more information, plan your schedule, and register today at prizmah.org/prizmahconference.

Author
Daniel Infeld
Issue
In These Times